Blind Man’s Bluff : 2.5 minute read by Farriz Mashudi 02/07/2020
What do you get when you put a blind man, a smorgasbord selection of candy, and after-school-kids together?
We called it ‘Open Season’.
Candy bars galore, chunky ropes of black liquorice (the strawberry scented strings were my favourite), and all manner of sweet treats in so many different shapes and varieties, it made our eyes bulge. Miraculous no one grabbed them and ran.
Transfixed before the alter of sweet offerings, in the solemn air that surrounded the blind man’s terraced display like a divine shroud, with his gentle smile standing behind rows of glass jars, he seemed to float with a luminescent presence: a benign buddha whose sole purpose was to deliver us of heavenly treats.
It could have been the lighting.
When he spoke, it was in barely audible whispers. His measured movements mesmerised, especially my best friend, Julie. A year older, she lived in the adjacent block, and you could find us detouring for treats after the school bus dropped us off at the main campus.
Not his fault, the Blind Man’s Booth wasn’t always filled with honest-to-goodness.
Located next to the Student Union cinema, the booth itself was a down-lit sanctuary surrounded by darkness. All right for him, our blind man was bald and wore glasses, which was an oddity unless he could see, maybe a little? Why had we never thought to worry about this? … Probably best not to over-analyse our stupidity, or dare I say it? – blindsided-ness. If you must, you could say Julie and I were just practising ‘Acceptance’ and ‘Gratitude’ in our daily lives. Not that we didn’t agonise, if only a bit, as guilt alarms went off even then, inside little our heads.
I admit, I struggled to only take the specified amount when the blindman turned not a blind eye, but his left ear to ask, “How many?” I’d always say, “Just two,” no matter how many of the pink bubble gum squares with those coloured comic strips inside their wrappers were heaped in my small hands. How could anyone read just one (or two, for that matter), with the next episodes lying in wait? (Admit it, Netflix junkies, binge watchers of all range of providers, you know what I mean.)
Julie once took two Cracker Jack boxes, you know the ones with the plastic toys inside, and she replied, straight-faced, “One.”
Was it an honesty test? Anthropology or Social Studies? Was the Psychology Department running a series of secret experiments?
The Blind Man’s Booth was located after all inside a university where our parents were post-graduates. Whatever it was — Cross my heart; Hope to die; Poke a needle in my eye… Swear to God, there was no greater temptation than the Jaw Breakers.
They should have been called ‘Jaw Droppers’… The glowing orbs of swirling flavours looked like black bowling balls but without finger holes and were just the right size to pop inside your mouth, roll around, and fill your cheek with a bulge. Melting layers one-by-one would blend in with the next, on and on, until only the smallest morsel was left on your tongue. That’s when you’d want to hold your breath and make it last forever. Right before it dissipated and was gone. Jaw-dropping.
But if you were so dumb as to try to bite through one, it probably could break your jaw, or at least dislocate it, which would make the name ‘Jaw Breaker’ a 70s product safety warning before its time.
In the age before CCTV, we made it our business to see the blind man frequently. Rain or shine, he could count on his regulars. We didn’t want him getting lonely. So, we told ourselves, never discussing his ‘generosity’. Whatever our running tab amounted to, for what it’s worth, Julie and I’ll be paying for our sins. Type 2 now, perhaps I am already.
More 70s ‘Adventures With Julie’ appear in LATEST POST: Run, Girl, Run